Little Boy

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Short takes

Not recommended under 14; parental guidance recommended 14-15 (Themes; Violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Little Boy
  • a review of Little Boy completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 8 September 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 14 Not recommended due to themes and violence
Children 14-15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and violence
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Little Boy
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and violence
Length: 102 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Little Boy is set in the 1940s. It is the story of a young boy named Pepper Busbee (Jakoc Salvati), who is only 39 inches tall despite being 8 years old. He lives in California with his parents and older brother. When the United States begins enlisting soldiers for World War II, Pepper’s older brother is selected. However, after he is medically disqualified, Pepper’s father James (Michael Rapaport) goes in his place.

James is Pepper’s best friend, and the young boy is devastated when his father has to leave to fight the Japanese. After a while, Pepper begins to believe that he has magical powers and might be able to bring his father back from the war. He speaks with a priest who recommends a list of ‘good deeds’ to complete in order to do this, with one of them being to befriend a Japanese American who has been being bullied and mistreated as a result of his race. Gradually, Pepper begins to let go of the hatred he feels towards the Japanese for taking his father away.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Relationships; war; racism and prejudice; bullying

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is considerably violence within the film, including:

  • There is violence shown in a news story about World War II. A prisoner of war is shot in the back by Japanese soldiers, and his corpse is later shown. A man is seen to die after running forward in battle, and having a poison dart hit him in the neck.
  • There is also brief footage of injured war veterans, as well as a young boy who witnesses the devastation of the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
  • A Japanese man is beaten up by a group of other men, as a result of his race.
  • Pepper is bullied by others because of his size
  • There are several sword fights between samurai soldiers – no blood is seen during these.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Many of the scenes above are likely to disturb young viewers. There is also a scene where a burns victim is shown, with bandages covering most of his injuries.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

There is a brief moment where a man talks about having the ‘best view’ from a certain chair, as there is a woman bending over nearby.

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances, including:

  • Several characters are seen to drink alcohol – one drinks while sitting with a group of other men in a bar, and another is seen to drink on their own.
  • A man smokes a cigarette.

Coarse language

There is mild use of coarse language, including:

  • There are offensive racist terms used, such as ‘Jap’, ‘Buddha head’, ‘Yellow hide’, ‘Rat’.
  • Someone says ‘motherf…’ and trails off

In a nutshell

Little Boy is an inspiring tale of one boy’s journey in rising above the racist hatred prevalent during World War II. The relationship between Pepper and his father is unshakeable, but the unlikely friendship that forms between Pepper and the Japanese-American man named Mr Hashimoto is the one that has the greatest impact on him. Through their friendship, Pepper learns that it is imperative to judge people as individuals, separate from their race or community, and that people do not fit into neat stereotypes. The film also highlights the destructive nature of bullying, as well as the devastation that a war causes for the countries involved.

Because of its themes and scenes of violence, the film is not recommended for children under 14.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • the importance of having faith and believing in something greater than yourself
  • the importance of rising above racism and not believing in stereotypes
  • the strength of relationships between fathers and sons.